Which Business Card Is Perfect for You? Read on and Then Decide

One of the first things people do when they set up a business is get business cards made. It's the first step towards building the brand and credibility in your sphere of influence. They are the first point on introduction during an person meeting or at networking events. They need to reflect your professional identity,…

One of the first things people do when they set up a business is get business cards made. It's the first step towards building the brand and credibility in your sphere of influence. They are the first point on introduction during an person meeting or at networking events. They need to reflect your professional identity, your company contact information as well as help you in building brand recall. Designing your business needs to be a highly strategic process. Today, there are many kinds of visiting cards that are available keeping in mind the image you are planning to project. Depending on the nature of your business, the ideology etc. you can design a card which will act as your most strategic branding strategy. Techniques in cardstock, printing and finishing has evolved to such a great extent, that you will be spoiled for choice. One has so many options from the range spanning across standard, laminated, luxury business cards, linen and eco-friendly business cards. Each one serves a particular purpose and conveys a distinct message. Let us try to delve into each kind and understand specific benefits.

Standard business cards -They are staid, no-nonsense, cards which spell professional. They are practical and can be designed using different colored card stock. Designing is also possible using various thickness of paper stock, kind of coating or finish and adding a design element. They come across as very business-like, solid and stable.

Laminated business cards – They are a few notches above the cards in terms of the look and feel. They are covered with a glossy or matte finish which protects it from damage, keeping the print as it is for a long time. Gloss finish has sheen and looks premium. Matte finish gives it a soft feel. But both kinds of laminated business card add that extra factor to your business card.

Luxury business cards – They are style statements in their own right, giving your business identity a whole new spin. They combine latest print and ink techniques, to give it a unique look. They are perfect for high end businesses or services that cater to the senior echelons of society. They come with specialized techniques like Spot UV, Foil stamping, embossing etc. that adds a very sophisticated element to your card-turning it into a style statement.

Linen business cards- They are unique and feel like fabric. The effect of the white line cardstock is like a fabric is woven through the card. It is soft to touch and feel special as it's different than the normal business cards. It grips the attention of anyone who Touches it. It boasts of clean lines and finish and is perfect for businesses that are into interiors, upholstery, architects, interior design professionals etc.

Eco-friendly cards – Increasingly, businesses are getting conscious, sometimes it's their own ideology or to meet environmental guidelines. Whatever your reason maybe, getting an eco-friendly is the best option. Made from 100 percent recycled cardstock, these cards can be made as interesting and creative as the others. They give out a very positive impression and generate goodwill instantly. It gives out the trustworthy factor where the customers know that they are dealing with honest and environmental friendly entity.

The Significance Of Having An Office Space

In business, leaving a good impression is something that weighs a lot. If you are able to leave a good impression then you are likely to attract more clients and more businesses would be sure to be on their way towards dealing with you or having business transactions with you. Now, how does one leave…

In business, leaving a good impression is something that weighs a lot. If you are able to leave a good impression then you are likely to attract more clients and more businesses would be sure to be on their way towards dealing with you or having business transactions with you.

Now, how does one leave a good impression to their business associates as well as possible clients and also to the existing ones? To start of, having an office space that exudes professional ambiance is one good means of leaving a good impression. When the business place is eye catching, it would definitely be the apple of the eye of every client. There is something to a professional ambiance that left people attractive to it. Some say that its the kind of air that make them comfortable in dealing with people regarding businesses ad there is something about it that gives them the confidence to deal with their business associates.

Having real office spaces to entertain and have business discussion with your clients is very essential for such leaves a good business impression. There are different kinds of offices according to your organization's need. And each has their own advantages to offer your business with. Most businesses nowdays are even opting for virtual offices for having a business office or address weight much to clients. Usually those that go for this choice of office are those that are typically completing their business transaction just over the phone or online. It is necessary for them to have these virtual offices to make some transaction a lot better and easier. These offices function like an ordinary office or a physical one but the difference is that the big bosses or the heads of the business are not in the said office.

Most small to medium scale business go for these kind of set-up for it allows them to create a good image for their organization plus giving them a good business address wherein letters, mails and other documents can be forwarded to especially by clients who are still fond of using the traditional mail. While others are really into having an office space where they can go to and preform their business tasks.

Having an office space, big or small, is not just for the purpose of having a prime address but also to give your clients or customer a great business experience with you.

Reasons Why Customer Care Is So Important for Your Business

Customer service is the most important thing in any business. Of course you recognize that there would be no business without customers. Getting customers is one thing but keeping them is another thing entirely. To keep a customer you have to win them over and you can do this by supporting them when they need…

Customer service is the most important thing in any business. Of course you recognize that there would be no business without customers. Getting customers is one thing but keeping them is another thing entirely. To keep a customer you have to win them over and you can do this by supporting them when they need help. Maintaining a friendly and helpful approach will make your customer feel at home with your service. They will feel that they can rely on you when they get stuck and they will trust you to help them out. Trust has to earn and the best way to earn the trust of your clients is to excel in the one thing customers care most about.

Customers First

Customers are the most important part of a business. Getting a customer is crucial but retaining them is even more crucial. They want to feel valued and they want to be treated well. Customer Service must do everything to answer the user's needs and make them feel like they are the most important people in your business. I do not like going to establishments with employees who do not know how to smile or greet a customer. The employees are the face of the business and whatever they do reflect on the business.

Customer is King

Just like the popular blogging adage “Content is King”, Customer is the king of any business whatever it is. Without them there is certainly no business for you. Therefore it is very important to manage your customer service well so as to satisfy them. Apart from themselves they will pull other customers through their favorable talk of your business. This way they assist you in marketing your business.

Any person who is not satisfied is a thorn to your business. They talk ill of it and in the process drive real and potential customers away. On average, one unsatisfied customer can drive away thirteen others. It is my opinion that all businesses should ideally invest in customer service for it is a worthy investment. Any successful business should endeavor to provide the needed quality to customers, at the time they want it and at a place they need it.

Customer service should be given equal importance. In a business arena, every customer is a potential buyer of the product you are selling; therefore giving them the necessary attention is very important. How one deals a customer would give them a better chance to closing a deal. It is of prime importance for us to always give a higher value to our customers than the value that our competitors save them.

My Advice

Sadly, these days, clients service seems to be in short supply. Over the years I've learned the key to great customer service. This is really not any herculean task. It's something anyone can do and it only requires using one of the 5 senses. It's listening! Many businesses make the mistake of not listening to their customers and fail miserably. As professionals, we've been on both sides of customer service and have learned from our experiences. Because of our experiences, we should understand how our customers feel and give them the service they want

Want other tips to ensure effective business? Visit my blog here to learn more

iPad Interactive Point of Sale (POS) Stands

Interactive Point of Sale (POS) stands are becoming hugely popular, not only for business owners but also for the consumer. It makes good sense for businesses to allow their customers time and space to browse without having a salesperson following them around, a POS stand can give that customer the information they require without feeling…

Interactive Point of Sale (POS) stands are becoming hugely popular, not only for business owners but also for the consumer. It makes good sense for businesses to allow their customers time and space to browse without having a salesperson following them around, a POS stand can give that customer the information they require without feeling harassed or stressed by sales personnel. The POS stand can also save money for the smaller, more budget conscious businesses by the strategic placement of the stand can reduce the need for paid members of staff. Consumers are known to enjoy using POS stands, they find it both a novel and entertaining experience and they leave a positive note having the information they were seeking, so are much more likely to return and make a purchase. We have found a few interesting POS stands on the market and the details are listed below:

The Kensington SecureBack POS Stand and Enclosure has a solid metal base and the ability to swivel, pivot and rotate 360 ​​degrees. The iPad simply pops into the Secure Back enclosure and the Click Safe lock with disc style locking head, described as “ideally pick-proof”, will protect it from theft and damage. We liked the no key, one click securing feature. Priced at $ 199.99

The Heckler – Designed Windfall POS iPad Stand has a 45 degree viewing angle, compatible with the optional cash drawer and receipt printer to achieve a complete point of sale station. Durable, smart and sleek, this stand is described as “perfect for all business types”. Price £ 129.00

The POS IN CLOUD iPad Restaurant POS Cash Register Kit includes much more than an iPad stand but we thought it well worth a mention. It also comes shipped with other hardware, including a receipt printer, cash drawer and wireless router, then there is the software element of a one year POS IN CLOUD license, real time monitor POS activities, free menu items upload service and real time cloud back up. The iPad stand is the desktop version – it should be noted that the iPad itself is not included in this package. Pricey at $ 649, although you do get the whole package

Also available from POS IN CLOUD are clear acrylic desktop stands for the iPad and iPad Mini and iPad Mini Retina, custom colored versions are available by special order. Lockable and full touch screen functions with easy access to all buttons and input / output ports, these acrylic stands are the perfect point of sale stands for those who are on a budget but still require a secure, interactive experience for their customers. Priced at only $ 69, these stands are really good value

The NCR POS Cash Register System is another whole point of sale package which includes a swivel iPad stand, cash drawer, credit card reader and counter top receipt printer. Described as a complete POS system it allows you to accept cash or credit cards, the software (available on a 30 day trial) is capable of capturing customers email addresses, tracking their purchases and then sending them relevant marketing messages. Reasonably priced for a whole package deal at $ 499

The Angel POS is a desktop stand enclosure with a secure lock for the iPad 2/3/4. The user can view the iPad in a variety of angles, move it side to side, tilt up or down and display in either portrait or landscape. Users have access to the power and home buttons, camera and headphone jack. Constructed of aluminum this point of sale stand is durable and scratchproof and is priced at $ 199.

We hope this helps you identify which iPad POS is best for your company, it is very common you to need to buy additional accessories such as a printer or cash drawer, but if only you need an iPad POS Stand check out our site for a selection of others.

Time-Tested Ways To Surprise Your Clients

This week I received a nice note in the mail. It touched me and made my day. One of the reasons it WOWed me, was because it was unexpected. It was sent by a colleague that I know and interact with, but it was not sent for any special reason. I had not done anything…

This week I received a nice note in the mail. It touched me and made my day. One of the reasons it WOWed me, was because it was unexpected. It was sent by a colleague that I know and interact with, but it was not sent for any special reason. I had not done anything for her. We had not had a deep conversation or interaction. When I received her card, I was surprised!

One element that adds to WOW is the sense of surprise. Increasing the level of surprise with your clients makes things more memorable. As a business owner, you want to be memorable to your clients. Here are a few ways to add more surprise to your customer gifts:

  1. Unexpected timing
  2. Unexpected item
  3. Unexpected act of service
  4. Unexpected emotion

You can surprise your clients by timing a gift or card when they are not expecting anything. Sending something when it is NOT a major holiday increases the element of surprise. This may mean you celebrate a lesser holiday. (You know – anything that does not happen in December!) You could choose a holiday that aligns with your brand. You may send something for their birthday because they do not expect you to remember their birthday. You might send something “just because” like my college did.

Another way to increase the element of surprise is to give something unexpected. You may be gifting at a time that the recipient expects to receive a gift, but you can give them something they never expected to receive. When a gift is a surprise it stands out from other gifts received at the same time. It is more memorable. It packs a larger punch. You can do this by paying attention to the details about your clients. If you know significant things (likes, dislikes, interesting facts from their past) you can use those to choose a gift they would never expect, but will totally love.

For some people, acts of service are more meaningful than gifts. Go out of your way to serve your clients by doing a little extra for them or introducing them to someone who can help them. These unexpected acts of service can surprise and delight them.

A gift that evokes a strong emotion will surprise the recipient and keep them talking about it. It may be touching and inspiring or quirky and funny. When your clients open a gift that brings up emotions, it will take them by surprise.

The opposite of the feeling of surprise and delight is when a gift is given out of obligation. It may be the timing. (Businesses often feel the need to gift in December out of obligation.) It may be a lackluster gift. (Oh look! Everyone got the same gift card!) You can feel the sense of obligation come through in a gift. I know it is the thought that counts, but when a gift is done out of obligation and there is no sense of surprise, it has a much smaller impact on the recipient.

Running a Business With a Cell Phone or Tablet

VoIP phone systems are essentially cordless, and are based in Cloud computing technology. They only require internet or cell phone access. Thus, taking orders or providing great customer service can be done from the backyard or the beach. Cloud phone systems provide more than just phone service. Internet fax is an amazing feature which allows…

VoIP phone systems are essentially cordless, and are based in Cloud computing technology. They only require internet or cell phone access. Thus, taking orders or providing great customer service can be done from the backyard or the beach.

Cloud phone systems provide more than just phone service. Internet fax is an amazing feature which allows for outgoing or incoming faxes. The other worthy features are HD video conferencing, text capabilities, and an auto attendant.

These features, historically reserved for high-end corporate phone systems, all come at a palatable cost. Basic services range from $ 8- $ 30 per month. Yes, the LAN phone line is becoming an endangered species.

These call routing features, inherent with these phone systems, play a key role in providing the best service and catching all sales calls. Calls can be routed to secondary phones should the initial call be missed after 4 or 5 rings. If you have a business partner, or if the secretary misses a call you can have it routed elsewhere, and that can be anywhere in the world that has an internet or phone connection.

I used a VoIp phone system to run top notch customer support, sales and tech support during my time with an E-commerce company. I routed all in and outbound calls through my cell phone for three years. Over one million dollars in sales was processed through that cell phone. Wherever I had phone service, I was able to run the customer service operations of the business. Also, if I missed calls, they were routed to a secretary on the other side of the world, who answered with Skype.

You do not need to publicize your personal phone numbers, as the phone services will allow you to select a new local number, toll-free number, or port your existing number.

Here are the steps to setting up a business phone system:

1. Find a carrier and select your plan – Plans are generally based around minutes used. Small businesses can take advantage of the plans with internet fax capabilities, HD video and call routing.

2. Pick your number – Plans allow for toll free or custom local numbers. This will be the business number you advertise

3. Setup your auto-attendant – This is your virtual secretary to greet your customers, route calls, set your business hours and more.

4. Enter your phone data – this is where you enter the phone or skype numbers, select your hold music and set your personal answering hours.

Customer Service From the C-Suite to the Mail Room

In a recent interview, I was asked questions about why the leaders of a company in the “C-Suite” should focus on customer service. The questions seemed to be well-thought-out and appropriate, but as I reviewed the questions and my answers, it occurred to me that they could have applied to everyone in the organization, not…

In a recent interview, I was asked questions about why the leaders of a company in the “C-Suite” should focus on customer service. The questions seemed to be well-thought-out and appropriate, but as I reviewed the questions and my answers, it occurred to me that they could have applied to everyone in the organization, not just the management. In other words, while the customer service vision may start in the C-Suite, everyone must own the responsibility.

Here are the questions that I was asked, and my thoughts on expanding the focus to include everyone in the organization.

1. From the C-Suite, why is customer service important?

The question could be restated as: Why is customer service important? This is basic. If your company has competitors that sell the same or similar products or services, how can you set yourself apart and attract the customers? You can differentiate yourself by the way you deliver the product. And although it is the front-line employees who deliver the customer experience, should not management take the lead in clearing and establishing what that customer experience should be?

2. So where do we begin to become a customer focused organization?

As I have been saying for years, it starts with the people on the inside – the employees. And that means everyone. What is happening inside the organization among the employees will absolutely be felt on the outside by the customer. To truly become customer-focused, a company must first be employee-focused by practicing internal service. I call it the “Employee Golden Rule” – treat the employees the way you want the customer to be treated (maybe even better). Recognize that customer service is not a department; it's a philosophy to be embraced by everyone.

3. What can the leaders do to impact customer service?

In my response to this interview question, I noted that the leadership must define the culture and create a brand promise that focuses on service. However, I would also say that when it comes to service, everyone must be a leader. The mandate to maintain a customer service culture must come from the C-Suite, but after that, it is up to everyone, leadership included, to imbue the company with that culture and model good service behavior. Whether you are the CEO or an entry-level employee, if you strive to be a leader in service, you will gain the respect and admiration of others and they will want to emulate your actions.

When it comes to customer service, everyone must take the responsibility of a leadership role. Yes, management must define the culture and set the course, but when it comes to service, they must share the leading role with the entire organization. Leaders need to take part in customer service training along the rest of the employees and model the behavior. All eyes are on them to set the example. On the other hand, service offers the opportunity for anyone to step up and be a leader, no matter what his or her title in the company. Whether you work in the C-Suite or the Mail Room, you can be a leader in customer service and a role model for those around you.

Master the Art of Customer Service

With an ever-increasing competition, it is not surprising that businesses have realized how important it is to make customers feel valued and important. A good service may just be what differentiates your business and sets you apart from the competition. From replying to questions, writing effective e-mails, communicating clearly, registering complaints and feedback, setting call…

With an ever-increasing competition, it is not surprising that businesses have realized how important it is to make customers feel valued and important. A good service may just be what differentiates your business and sets you apart from the competition. From replying to questions, writing effective e-mails, communicating clearly, registering complaints and feedback, setting call backs and building relationships, the domain of customer service obligations multiple tasks and challenges. In fact, boosting sales by cross-selling is increasingly becoming a part of this domain. Traditional methods of selling a product are quickly getting replaced by newer ones in today's online marketplace. Representatives are, therefore, trained to identify opportunities to cross-sell and introduce new products. An excellent service not only encourages existing customers to continue to do business, it also helps to acquire new customers as existing ones engage in a word-of-mouth publicity.

To be good at customer service, representatives must be trained to acquire specific skills. As reps talk to a number of customers on a daily basis, they must learn to communicate clearly and effectively. They also need to be trained to deal with difficult scenarios, conflicts and problem situations. To acquire these necessary skills and become an expert professional, you must:

  • Assist thoughtfully and effectively
  • Improve communication skills and identify your shortcomings
  • Learn strategies to handle impatient and angry customers
  • Build and improve your customer relationships
  • Develop active listening skills
  • Learn ways to ensure a first call resolution
  • Ask relevant questions to understand precise requirements
  • Write effective e-mails

In order to assist customers effectively, representatives must give out accurate and precise information. At the same time, they should not give out false, misleading information or tell something that they are themselves not sure. This implies that they must be thoroughly familiar with their products and services. They should ask appropriate, open-ended questions to understand specific requirements. They also need to develop active listening skills and wipe out distractions such as a side conversation. Instead of interfering in between, it's important to summarize, paraphrase and ask questions to get clarifications and avoid any misunderstanding. An efficient service requires reps to resolve the customer's issue in the first instance when he calls. First call resolution not only helps to cut down operating costs, it also reduces complaints and escalations. Reps, therefore, need to make an extra effort to ensure a first call resolution. Take your performance to the next level with expert advice and guidance.

Steps to Finding the Right TV Repair Company

Repairing a television is not as easy as some other do-it-yourself jobs, and not really a task for amateurs. But finding the right TV repair company can be a bit tricky, considering the number of shady envelopes that are simply not equipped to carry out the necessary repairs. Some of the below guidelines can be…

Repairing a television is not as easy as some other do-it-yourself jobs, and not really a task for amateurs. But finding the right TV repair company can be a bit tricky, considering the number of shady envelopes that are simply not equipped to carry out the necessary repairs. Some of the below guidelines can be quite handy while scouting for the right TV repair company:

• Look for a professional company: As mentioned, this job is best left to professionals-tinkering with your television set yourself or by trying to look at a few DIY videos online could prove detrimental-your much-loved set could get damaged forever. You'll also be obstructive any opportunities of getting the repair covered under warranty. Scouting the neighborhood for a guy that claims he can repair any electronic device is not a wise choice either. Like you, he too is an amateur; albeit with a little more practical know-how. He might make the same set of errors.

• Start searching systematically: Using business directories and Yellow Page listings could prove a bit too random as it is likely to give you a lot of options, without listing names of companies that specialize in jobs similar to the ones you need. Recommendations from friends and / or relatives can definitely be useful, but again, carry out your own research first to be sure.

• Pay attention to customer ratings: Fortunately, we live in an era when access to information is pretty much unlimited. Make sure you read what customers are saying about the company you've shortlisted. Service, price points, time taken to get the job done, every aspect is likely to be covered. Beware of fake reviews, though-they're aplenty. Please use logic while sifting through them to find the genuine ones.

• Choose a company within local reach: Fine, so you have located a really good company that has got rave ratings from customers. The only blip is that it is a three-hour drive away! That would not make too much sense. You'd probably end up more money traveling than on the actual repairs. Sticking to a radius of about 5 miles or so from your place is generally a good rule of thumb.

• Get a trial: If possible, try giving the company a smaller repair job before you hand over an important piece of equipment. ESPecially if your TV set looks to have a major malfunction, it is better to be safe than sorry. A successful small repair task is bound to establish trust and boost your confidence before you can entrust them with the next big repair, and probably every one after that, along the recommendations you'd be handing out to your friends whenever they need such a job done!

Are These Communication Breakdowns Driving Your Customers Away? (Part 2)

If you missed the first post last week about how internal communication glitches are driving customers away , you may want to go back and read those first messages customers may not be claiming you orally, but with their exit: Communication Breakdown # 1: Your check-out process is too slow. Communication Breakdown # 2: Teach…

If you missed the first post last week about how internal communication glitches are driving customers away , you may want to go back and read those first messages customers may not be claiming you orally, but with their exit:

Communication Breakdown # 1: Your check-out process is too slow.

Communication Breakdown # 2: Teach your frontline people and tech support staff “people skills.”

Communication Breakdown # 3: Do not hide from your customers.

Here are a few more internal communication breakdowns to add to the list of problems that ever show up to the customer as poor service:

Communication Breakdown # 4: Order from yourself and see what garbage you get.

Pray that you never receive a bill with an error or wrong or damaged merchandise. I ordered pottery from an online retailer recently and called when the butter dish arrived broken. The agent's response:

“Oh, yeah, those get broken all the time. The factory does not pack them very well.” They sent a second dish; it too was broken. Executives never hear about such foul-ups because they are “routine.”

Experience the processes yourself. Place an order and make a return periodically. Call about an error and see how you're treated.

Communication Breakdown # 5: Do not patronize or insult your customers.

As a frequent flyer with more than 4 million miles on one airline alone, I'm pronouncing the TSA (Transportation Security Service) the winner here. As airline passengers wind their way up to the checkpoints, start to empty their valuables into the buckets, and toss their bags onto the conveyor belts, the agents bark orders, roll eyes, and give them patronizing looks like, “Why can not you idiots get these rules right? ”

Agents do not realize that different airports have their own sub-set of rules-rules that may or may not follow the national guidelines: Take your shoes off! … You do not need to take your shoes off-you're holding up the line! … Take your tablet out of the computer bag! … Do not take your computer out of the bag-leave it in and move along quickly! keep it out … We do not need to see your ID again; you can put it away.

What we as flyers would like to point out (but do not because we would never make the plane on time) is this: “Stupid” passengers are not the problem. TSA agents apply and enforce rules inconsistently from airport to airport.

Other examples of involving or talking down to customers: “Send us proof of the damaged box.” “When did this injured incident occur?” “We recommend that you get some training on the system before our Help Desk can support you.”

Communication Breakdown # 6: Do not make your customers do the work.

I recently bought two new computers. Because I had to deal with one “specialist” for the laptop and a different “specialist” for the desktop, the retailer rang up two different transactions. That's when we discovered that the store had three different accounts for us (one personal account for me, one business account for me, and one personal account for my husband).

“Can they be combined?” I asked. No can do, they insisted. Such a “complex” request has to go to a regional vice president for approval. The best manager could do was hand me an 800 number to call, so I could spend the “half hour” on the phone chasing down the regional vice president to amend their internal database.

As a customer, have you ever been asked to complete the same lengthy forms repeated because because a medical office finds it easier to have you do this each visit than to check their own records from past visits?

Have you ever had to stand in Line X, then in Line Y, then in Line Z-all because an organization has not gotten around to clarifying their signage so you can get in the correct line the first time?

Has a service agent ever asked for you to send in documentation for some transaction, misplaced it, and then requested that you resend everything?

If you're using a lot of statements that start with, “You'll have to …” or “You need to …” watch out.

Customers who have to work to do business with you … may decide not to.

Poor internal communication produces chaos and consternation for customers-if they hang around long enough to experience the full brunt of it.

Can you add other examples of internal communication breakdowns? Jot them in the Comments section below.

Focus on the Customer, Not the Money

Striving to take your business to the next level of success? Sometimes it's time to refocus. Stop worrying so much about the sale, and just take care of the customer. Whether the customer is buying right now or not, if you deliver the best service you can, the sale will come. This is not a…

Striving to take your business to the next level of success? Sometimes it's time to refocus. Stop worrying so much about the sale, and just take care of the customer. Whether the customer is buying right now or not, if you deliver the best service you can, the sale will come.

This is not a new concept – it's something I've been supporting for nearly 30 years. Still, however, when I ask people what the function of a business is, most answer, “To make money.” Not so. As Dr. Ted Levitt, senior professor at Harvard Business School, once said, “The function of a business is to get and keep customers.”

Do not worry, money still figures into the equation, but it is not the function of the business. It is the goal. And to reach your goal – making money – requires attracting and keeping customers.

By keeping the focus on getting customers and keeping them happy, you will make money. Without customers, there's no business – and no money. Think about Dr. Levitt's statement and you will realize what a brilliant concept it is.

To illustrate the point, I'll turn once again to Ace Hardware, the role model for customer service featured in my latest book.

A resident of Mesa, Arizona, Maria, and her 8-year-old daughter, Lisa, were shopping in the mall one day and Lisa spotted one of those color-changing Mood Rings. She tried it on, but it was too small and would not come off her finger. Maria struggled for an hour to remove the ring from Lisa's finger to no avail, and the finger was showing signs of circulation problems. Who did Maria turn to? The nearby Ace Hardware store. They help with everything.

An Ace associate, Floyd, knew just what to do. He used a special pair of pliers and slowly and carefully removed the ring from Lisa's finger.

Maria did not buy anything that day, but she took a picture of her daughter, happy that the ring was removed, and posted the photo on Facebook. She included the story of what happened and how Floyd at the local Ace Hardware had been so willing to help.

Many people responded to the story of how Floyd delivered the amazing helpful service that Ace is known for. Did that Ace Hardware store make money from the incident? Not directly, but they made a customer very happy, and that customer evangelized on their behalf.

If you really focus on the customer, not the money, customers will notice. They will appreciate the importance you place on them and repay you with loyalty – and business.

5 Crucial Ways to Improve Customer Satisfaction

In the leather bag industry, especially those high end names which can not be mentioned in this article, you might get better customer service if you go in store looking like a fancy celebrity. Unfortunately, the average buyer is no celebrity at all. Regardless, everyone should always get the same customer service without, in my…

In the leather bag industry, especially those high end names which can not be mentioned in this article, you might get better customer service if you go in store looking like a fancy celebrity. Unfortunately, the average buyer is no celebrity at all. Regardless, everyone should always get the same customer service without, in my opinion, a person is being significantly offensive. Otherwise: 2 people in the same store should be served equally. Here are five ways to insure equal quality customer service and this can also give you cues on how to rearrange your store so your customers get a better shopping experience when visiting you:

1. Everyone placing the foot into your store should be welcomed appropriately with eye contact if you are busy helping another customer or with words if you are available. People will understand you do not want to interrupt your ongoing conversation with an important customer to welcome another but acknowledging them will be inviting and a first step towards them afterwords.

2. No one likes to feel pressurized when shopping. It is important to your customer feels you want to help but still respect their wish to look around freely. Also, being abusively stared at is not better than being completely left alone. You need to find a way for visits to go smoothly as opposed to awkward moments if you only have one person in your store and do not know how to manage. For example, you can keep a to-do list of small tasks easily performed with customers in store so to give you something to do when they do not require your help.

3. Nobody wants to see an employee on their cell phone or watching TV while they are about to spend their money in “your” store. This feels disrespectful, no matter the age of the employee, and it promises to make people walk away. Employees should not be allowed to have their cellphones on them and they should be turned off, or quiet, when they are working. How often have I personally seen boutiques in places where employees were leaving on the counters on their cell phones? You have NO IDEA how this behavior amputates your sales. Even owners should follow this rule as customers do not appreciate to feel unimportant and most of them do not know who the Boss is anyway …

4. Studies shown that classical music is the best music to feel inclined to buying. Radio stations are the least wanted because it is hard to please everyone and if your customers feel annoyed, so will their shopping session. Make sure they feel relaxed and at peace in your place and this will help your sales.

5. Lastly but very importantly, when in direct contact with the customer, you need to listen. They become the most important person at that moment and if you can pinpoint their needs and desires, they will feel good and most likely, they will purchase from you. Pay attention to your words, try to adjust your conversation to the person in front of you, do not make sarcastic jokes and be kind, simply. Sales will increase and loyalty will start to establish itself.

These rules may seem easy and taken for granted, but they should often be revised as most people tend to forget. Having a brick-and-mortar store front, I would definitely post these in the back store for all employees to see every time they walk up front. If an employee is seen acting otherwise, just send them for a quick reading session in the back as a first notice before they are shown … the door!

Can Mystery Shopping Companies Improve Your Net Promoter Score? (NPS)

Every business thrives because of the involved participative activities of promoters. These promoters are customers who believe whole heartedly in your business and will go to great lengths to praise it, spread positive WOM (word of mouth) and recommend the business to their friends. The stronger your NPS is the better are your chances of…

Every business thrives because of the involved participative activities of promoters. These promoters are customers who believe whole heartedly in your business and will go to great lengths to praise it, spread positive WOM (word of mouth) and recommend the business to their friends. The stronger your NPS is the better are your chances of beating the competition. Hiring mystery shopping companies can help boost your NPS score. Learn the reasons why.

Mystery shopping reveals the customer connect

Your NPS score will only be as strong as your customers connect. The customer connect is the level at which your business can engage customers and read their true preferences. Customer connect will demonstrate the service level of your front line staff. It is here that mystery shopping companies can promote a better understanding of the actual performance of your staff. The shoppers employed by such companies are professionals who can catch defects in service behavior and latch on to dissatisfaction about received shortcomings of product or service.

The calculation of NPS

NPS can actually be likened to the financial worth of your business. Its total value of promoters (customers who think positively about and recommend your business) from detractors (customers who feel negatively about your business). This score will reveal your growth rate and your future profitability. It's a commonly known fact that your customer value is directly tied to your future market share (especially in the service sector). In an industry beset with fierce competition, NPS is one of the true indicators of future growth.

Categorization of customers and mystery shoppers

Mystery shopping companies can help you categories the customers visiting your business promotions. They can ask them various questions with an appropriate range based from 1-10 for the responses. You have to segregate promoters and passives from the detractors. Marketing experts recommend increasing the percentage of promoters, converting passives into promoters and work on associated negativity of the detractors. Promoter% -detractor% = NPS and this formula can only be used if you have accurate numbers for promoters and detractors. This data is again best generated by mystery shopping companies.

Mystery shoppers point out hidden flaws

Many business owners spend a large percentage of time worrying about why their profitability is not increasing without having any cognizance of what an NPS score is. Market analytics reports say that only the top players like Apple, Harley Davidson and Fed-Ex have a decent NPS score ranging between 50% to 80%. Most other businesses have low or negative NPS Score. The fact is that 90% of factors that can make or break this score are in the hands of front line service staff. Mystery shoppers can detect mistakes committed and pin point exact reasons for customer dissatisfaction. In other words they can tell you what is wrong and unless you know that how are you going to fix the negatives?

“What are the chances that you will recommend this business to your friend?” is the question that will reveal your true NPS score.

Understanding Body Language For Great Customer Service

“Were you able to find everything that you needed today?” The customer hesitates and frowns, “Sure.” “That's great.” If the employee never looks at the customer while he requests that question, he will never catch the facial expression that says that the customer was obviously less than impressed with her experience in the store today.…

“Were you able to find everything that you needed today?” The customer hesitates and frowns, “Sure.” “That's great.” If the employee never looks at the customer while he requests that question, he will never catch the facial expression that says that the customer was obviously less than impressed with her experience in the store today.

Body language can say much more than words can, and research shows that the majority of our communication, (some studies say up to 80%) is non-verbal. Since so much of what customers want to communicate is expressed through body language, understanding the cues that it provides, can help employees to provide an exceptional customer service.

Be Observer

As the example indicated at the outset points out, employees can not observe body language if they are not trained to look for it. One of the most common forms of body language seen in retail outlets are when customers approach an employee, product in hand. This is almost always an indication that the customer needs some assistance. Even if a person begins to approach an employee, then hesitates, employees should use the opportunity to be proactive and approach the customer to see what kind of assistance they need. Sometimes, when employees are working on another task, their awareness level drops. Employees should be encouraged to always look for opportunities to assist customers, even when they are engaged in other tasks.

Be Proactive

Other body language indicators will require an employee to be proactive. Many companies in the retail business send out a weekly catalog. Is a customer having a hard time finding a particular item? They may be indicating this fact by walking around the store, catalog in hand, scanning the aisles to see if they can find something. This would be an excellent opportunity for one of the employees to approach the person to see if they can assist in some way.

Customer service training programs can help employees to understand the body language cues to look out for in order to provide the highest possible level of customer service.

Managers need to be observant as well, looking for opportunities to anticipate the needs of the customer. Employees will follow the lead of management. Whether it is the tracks of confusion when a customer is asked if they were able to find something or the slight look of irritation when a customer is asked if everything was enjoyable at the restaurant today; it is important to take note of all the minority non-verbal cues that customers use to indicate their satisfaction level. Customer service training can provide the instruction that employees need to be able to pick up on these cues and meet the needs of their customers.

What to Do When Your Customer Advisors Are Stressed

There are times when working in the customer service industry becomes a chore. Advisors can be left disillusioned, disrupted and generally sick and tired of being berated by customers. This is an inevitable point that all people will reach in their employment whether they have to deal with the general public or collections and other…

There are times when working in the customer service industry becomes a chore. Advisors can be left disillusioned, disrupted and generally sick and tired of being berated by customers.

This is an inevitable point that all people will reach in their employment whether they have to deal with the general public or collections and other businesses, and there is it is something that all employers have to have prepared to deal with. The strategies will vary from person to person, as different people have different ways of handling stress but pastoral support is vital nonetheless.

It may be a case of maintaining a level of motivation that keeps morale up, or at least tries to and becomes a running joke around the office! Quite seriously though, every establishment will identify an area that needs consistent support and more often this is morale – simply because when employees' morale is up, their ability and attitude to work is also more positive.

Keeping roles constantly changing can assist with stress levels too. Obviously this is dependent on the expertise demanded for each role, but as a standard customer advisor, it is easy to rotate your staff so that they get a variety of experience as well as sometimes being customer facing and other times being able to escape. As a side note, this allows employers to identify which areas their employers are stronger in too.

It's important to share experiences that the team have had with customer experience – preferably from both sides of the customer service dynamic. Firstly this helps to boost confidence within the team, since generally speaking everyone has had lovely and terrible experiences, but it also helps to raise awareness. Sometimes customer advisors and customers alike are unable to identify where they can improve with their attitude towards the other party: this simple team activity could add a unique dimension to the service your business offers.

The most obvious option for monitoring your employees 'stress levels is to have firstly a hierarchy in place, ideally so that there is someone on the shop floor to be aware of advisors' mental states without the employee in question necessarily being aware that they're being monitored and have one to one meetings. This applies to both the manager observing as well as each of the employees – yes it's time consuming but the different manifestations of stress could damage the company where the regular meetings could preserve or improve the reputation.